Sipapela’s tirade amounts to hate speech

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I am reacting to the speech that went viral and proved a shocker to all residents of the Zambezi Region of Namibia. Yes, I am talking about the speech that was delivered by the councillor in question to a throng of innocent youths of Mafwe origin in the Zambezi Region. The content of that speech appeared in the New Era edition of December 8, 2015.

I should plead with all fellow Swapo party fanatics and the nation as a whole to provide audience to this written discourse without bias. I am talking about Swapo, an organization that really understands how unified efforts against a common adversary can swing the battle in favour of the unified. It is plain common sense that freedom fighters from all different tribal groups in this country consolidated themselves on the basis of national unity. All groups internalized the image of their oppressor and aspired for freedom from the same foe.

The tribal groups of our country together understood that freedom from such a vicious enemy required them to join forces. They recognized that their strength lay in their unity. They understood it was not easy for any group to liberate its territory on its own and therefore the war had to be fought together. All feelings of indifference towards other tribes were loathed by all groups. Yes, I am saying that all thoughts of tribal glorification and tribal supremacy were ushered to the doldrums.

Yes, each tribal group managed to rise above the tribal morass that had been sown by the apartheid regime. They transcended tribal boundaries and joined forces to better their chances of attaining the much-needed independence of the territory they shared.

I am referring to the boundary that defined the ‘Caprivi territory’, the boundary that defined the ‘Kavango territory’, the boundary that defined the ‘Owambo territory’, the boundary that defined the ‘Ovaherero territory’, the boundary that defined the ‘Damara/Nama territories’ and indeed the boundaries that defined the territories of all tribes in this country. All these divisive territories proved zero hindrance to the fight against a common enemy. It was unity, and indeed tribal unity alone, that spurred the Namibian nation in its wars against the enemy that occupied its territory.

I should state now that the readers of this article should understand that the message our glorious and all embracing Swapo organization should preach is that of unity. It is ironical that all of a sudden the message Swapo councillors preach to the youth in the Zambezi runs contrary to the spirit that is behind the organization’s existence.

It is important for the Swapo leadership in the Zambezi Region to understand that the speech that was delivered to the youth from the Mafwe tribal background spells out a huge test to the leadership skills of the whole organization. I am willing to brave all the ‘voodoo spells’ and call such speeches by their right names. The utterances by the Swapo councillor in question amount to hate speech and deal a huge blow to regional unity. It represents tribal bigotry, tribal intolerance, tribal bias, and indeed an act superseding the definition of narrow-mindedness. The speech is indeed pregnant with verbal grenades and their fiery fire consumes everything in its path.

I am saying the speech sows seeds of hatred and utter detestation of one another. The bedeviled talk represents loathsome communication. The Zambezi Region residents do not need speeches of that nature, for such speeches propagate the message of regional disunity and indeed undermine all attempts meant to reconcile the whole region with itself. The potency of such a speech is exacerbated by the fact that it was uttered by one of those who occupy positions of trust. The speech indeed represents a blatant betrayal of the trust the Swapo organization has bestowed on leaders within its ranks.

I am saying that the councillor in question’s speech amounts to obvious betrayal of the trust the organization has vested in those it expects to preach peace and unity. It is ironical that the Swapo meetings are now serving as better platforms to disseminate the message of hate and utter abhorrence of other tribal groups. The message preaches empowering one tribal group over another and confirms to be in league with the Swapo Youth League leadership in its endeavour to spearhead tribal hate.

Namibians, we should all go with the common sense that this country does not need its leaders to preach divisive messages and such individuals should be ushered to the bench before the brew is spoilt.

One wonders whether the ‘Honourable’ Sipapela and his supporters are indirectly challenging President Hage Geingob’s call that “nobody must feel left out”. I am inclined to wonder whether the comrade is really a supporter of the aims and objectives of the mighty Swapo Party when his campaign targets fellow Swapo Party members (albeit from a different tribal background) instead of political opponents. I for one smell a dead rat here! Would I be wrong to think that the reported hate speech emanated from a member of a political party other than Swapo? Or are we dealing with political leaders and members with questionable dual or even multi-party membership?

The speech is still self-defeating in the sense that it invites utter hatred, utter loath and utter revulsion to be directed towards other tribes.

The leadership of Swapo as a whole should understand that its reluctance in dealing with issues of this nature is equally self-defeating. The Swapo leadership should take decisive steps to distance itself from sermons of hate carried out by individuals within its ranks.

• Silume Simataa hails from the Zambezi Region and holds a Master’s in Leadership and Change Management from the Namibian University of Science and Technology

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